SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 69
July 25, 2005

SUPREME COURT NOMINATIONS NOT CONFIRMED, 1789-2004

"Of the 154 nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court between 1789 and 2004, 34 were not confirmed by the Senate," according to a recent study from the Congressional Research Service.

See "Supreme Court Nominations Not Confirmed, 1789-2004," updated March 21, 2005:

Speaking of Supreme Court nominations, Secrecy News briefly captured the zeitgeist last week with its report on the role of former Reagan White House official "John Roberts" in the Iran-Contra affair (SN, 07/20/05).

The initial report and the subsequent Secrecy News correction, which explained that the named individual was not the same person as Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr., were deemed worthy of notice by the Washington Post (07/22/05) and then by Time Magazine (08/01/05). Thanks for reading.

In both cases, however, the error should have been attributed to the publication, Secrecy News, rather than to the publisher, the Federation of American Scientists.


WAR POWERS: DECIDING TO USE FORCE ABROAD

The process of authorizing the decision to go to war is reexamined in a new report by a bipartisan commission which generally concludes that Congress must be more assertive in exercising its constitutionally mandated role.

"Congress must perform its constitutional duty to reach a deliberate and transparent collective judgment about initiating the use of force abroad except when force is used for a limited range of defensive purposes."

See "Deciding to Use Force Abroad: War Powers in a System of Checks and Balances," The Constitution Project, June 29, 2005:

Relatedly, see "War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance" from the Congressional Research Service, updated May 24, 2005:


THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF TRANSPARENCY

"What makes disclosure policies effective?" asks a recent academic study from Harvard University's Transparency Policy Project.

"Based on a close examination of several prominent cases, we contend that effective transparency policies must possess two characteristics."

"First, they must successfully embed new kinds of information into the everyday decision-making routines of various users [consumers]. Second, policies must embed information about user responses in the decision-making routines of disclosers."

The meaning of this rather abstract conclusion is elaborated in "The Political Economy of Transparency" by Archon Fung, et al, John F. Kennedy School of Government, December 2004:


BIOMETRIC ACCESS CONTROL AT US BASES IN IRAQ

In an effort to improve security at U.S. bases in Iraq, the Department of Defense has issued a new policy requiring the collection of various biometric data from non-U.S. persons who seek access to U.S. facilities there.

"USCENTCOM personnel will collect biometrics, biographic, and other identifying information from non-screened, non-U.S. persons requesting access to U.S. bases and installations in Iraq," according to a July 15 DoD policy memorandum obtained by Secrecy News.

"At a minimum, fingerprints, facial photos, and iris scans will be collected."

"Data collected under this policy will be stored indefinitely in support of the War on Terrorism."

See "DoD Policy for Biometric Information for Access to U.S. Installations and Facilities in Iraq," issued by (acting) Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, July 15, 2005:


A GRAB BAG OF CRS REPORTS

The Congressional Research Service does not make its publications directly available to the public. Some recent (or recently acquired) CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News include the following:

"Nuclear Weapons: The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program," substantially updated July 20, 2005:

"India-U.S. Relations," updated July 15, 2005:

"India: Chronology of Recent Events," updated July 13, 2005:

"Vieques and Culebra Islands: An Analysis of Cleanup Status and Costs," updated July 7, 2005:

"NASA's Space Shuttle Program: Issues for Congress Related to The Columbia Tragedy and 'Return to Flight'," updated June 2, 2005:

"Homeland Security: Navy Operations -- Background and Issues for Congress," updated June 2, 2005:

"Navy Network-Centric Warfare Concept: Key Programs and Issues for Congress," updated May 31, 2005:

"Homosexuals and U.S. Military Policy: Current Issues," updated May 27, 2005:

"POWs and MIAs: Status and Accounting Issues," updated May 20, 2005:

"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons: How Soon an Arsenal?," updated May 12, 2005:

"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program," updated May 6, 2005:

"Gun Legislation in the 109th Congress," updated May 6, 2005:

"Congressional Oversight Manual," October 21, 2004:

"Congressional Access to Executive Branch Information: Legislative Tools," May 17, 2001:

"Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege: History, Law, Practice and Recent Developments," September 21, 1999:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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